A 334-unit apartment complex got initial approval Thursday night from the Flowery Branch City Council, following a lengthy discussion involving the developer and residents.
The Sept. 5 vote was unanimous, although council members said they struggled with the decision, given concerns about traffic, closeness to Flowery Branch High School and other issues.
“I’m going to go with a soft ‘yes’ tonight,” Councilman Joe Anglin said.
Woodfield Development is seeking to rezone 32.6 acres at 4496 Hog Mountain Road, next to the school and across from Cash Road, for the project. A final vote is set for Sept. 19.
The land is currently agricultural. Woodfield wants it rezoned to residential multifamily and highway business.
The property slopes from Hog Mountain toward Interstate 985, so the developer has said that the gated complex with monthly rents ranging from $1,300 for one-bedroom units to $1,900 for three-bedroom units would be mostly hidden from view.
“I tip my hat to any developer who can actually develop that property,” Anglin said, drawing laughter from the audience.
Councilman Ed Asbridge also talked about the property’s topography, saying, “I don’t know what else you could put on it.”
“This is probably … the best apartments that we could ever hope for,” he added. “The amenities are great. They’ve got everything someone would want.”
Woodfield is proposing several amenities in the apartment complex, including a clubhouse with business center, lounge and event kitchen, swimming pool, outdoor dining area, walking trails, and a tennis court or basketball court, according to city documents.
Also proposed is 20,000 square feet of commercial space facing Hog Mountain Road, including 10,000 square feet for a restaurant.
Residents have said — and repeated in comments Thursday night to the council — that they were particularly worried about traffic. They also said they worried about the impact on student enrollment and whether crime would rise.
“I think this project is overwhelming,” said one resident.
The project could take several years to build, with developers saying they believe timing would coincide with area road improvements — including the widening of Spout Springs Road — as well as Flowery Branch’s sewer expansion.